Culinary Canvas

David Vidal: ‘I like clean’

Chef David Vidal reveals his winning formula for creating new desserts.

Words by Sophie Miskiw. Photography by Johan Ståhlberg.

Throughout history, certain couplings have emerged as more iconic than others. Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet…white chocolate and raspberry. Yes, the sweet-sour berry is often paired with the most delicate of the chocolates in everything from blondies and cookies to scones and cakes. It’s a winning combination, subtle and light but far from uninteresting.

It’s for these qualities that globally-renowned chef David Vidal picked the classic pair to build his white chocolate bavarois with raspberry ice cream. He’s not overly fond of desserts that are too sweet, often working with just three flavours at any one time - at least one of them naturally sour.

David’s starting point for any new creation tends to be what’s in season and readily available in the west of Sweden where he’s based. In this instance, he began with raspberries to add his requisite touch of tartness.

“The flavour profile of this dessert is because it was made to be served in summer, that’s when raspberries are really good here. The sourness from the raspberry works well with the sweet white chocolate. That’s how I always work, I balance it out so you don’t just have one taste profile. Then I used Opalys white chocolate from Verona, which I love and use a lot.”

With more than 400,000 followers on Instagram, David’s desserts have become somewhat Insta-famous. It’s no surprise really, they’re picture perfect and so vivid you can practically taste them through the screen. This particular dish differs slightly in presentation from his typical desserts, which David explains is because it was conceived for a wedding. It’s more compact than his signature style, a purpose-made pièce de résistance to wrap up the wedding breakfast.

“It’s more dainty, that’s what I was going for. Something that signalled it was a wedding dessert but, at the same time, not too fussy. It’s a bit more clean. I like clean.”

The dessert might be small but creating it for a wedding party is no small feat. Particularly when you might be serving upwards of 80 people. It’s not overly technical per say (says the star pastry chef) but does require steady-handed chocolate work and, depending on how many people are being served, more hands on deck.

“To get the chocolates rings just right is not that hard, but when you’re doing it for so many people it’s almost guaranteed some will break. So you need to make extra, just in case.”

While taste is paramount to any dish - sweet or savoury - any chef worth their salt knows that even an Eton Mess requires care with its composition. David has a natural flair for presentation and while never formulaic, he tries to ensure each dessert reflects its particular season. From the colour palette to the plate, each minutia is considered before the dish is finally served. Whether he’s going for rustic or refined, David seeks what he calls a certain 'snygghet' (a Swedish word that roughly translates to ‘good looking-ness’).

“Maybe I think too much into it. Who knows? I was always taught in school that people eat first with their eyes.”

Words by Sophie Miskiw. Photography by Johan Ståhlberg.